USDA's Dr. Rufus Chaney, the last federal sludge salesman
Why does Chaney want to destroy our health, our farmland environment and put our
neighbors at risk? Is he a pathological liar due to neurological damage or does he
have criminal intentions?
Subj: Dr. Rufus Chaney, the last federal sludge salesman
Date: 8/30/2005 1:54:11 PM Central Daylight Time
by Jim Bynum -- An old farmer who has experienced some effects of neurological damage and
Organic toxic dust syndrome caused by sludge exposure, watched some of
his neighbors die and suffered a court ordered gate to block public and
family visitors access to the sludge run on contaminated farm.
Double click on highlighted text for documentation.
Not long ago, Wednesday, March 30th, 2005, USDA's Dr Rufus Chaney, the last federal
sludge salesman (EPA's Rubin & Walker retired), appeared on Chanel 17 in Bakersfield,
California to debate the safety of sludge use as a fertilizer. After reading the debate transcript,
the question is: Is Chaney a pathological Liar or is he suffering neurological damage
due to toxic sludge exposure? USDA's Beltsville research center has been a
Superfund site since the 80s.
How could a person who seems to know so little during the debate, be the sludge expert on
regulations for the CDC, USDA and EPA?
Dr. Chaney was on the 503 Peer Review Committee which deleted the references to deadly
carcinogens and disease causing agents in sludge and he did help revise the 503 to take
sludge disposal outside the federal law by "considering" sludge to be a fertilizer.
He was even arrogant enough to put his name on EPA's "A Guide to the Biosolids Risk
Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule" in September 1995, which states, the only risk
assessment done was on a few organic chemicals that were not even considered for
regulation under 503. It also states that none of the proven cancer causing metals in
sludge were "considered" cancer causing agents. Therefore there was no risk. As strange as
it may seem for a USDA employee, Dr. Chaney has a history promoting hazardous waste
dumping on farmland as a fertilizer. Apparently Dr. Chaney never thought people would realize
they fall under the category of organisms when he left the definition of a pollutant in 503.9(t).
Dr. Chaney is an interesting study to say the least. Let's look at the transcript of his side of the
debate and then his views.
Chanel 17's JIM SCOTT:
And we are very pleased to have with us tonight one of the people who helped write federal
regulations for land-applied biosolids, Dr. Rufus Chaney, an agronomist with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. Here on -- he is here courtesy, I should say, of the California
Association of Sanitation Agencies, which paid his airfare out here.
DR. CHANEY: I would -- I would disagree, essentially, totally with how she described the safety
of biosolid use. The 503 Rule, Congress made a law. EPA was -- developed a regulation
to comply with the federal law to protect human -- humans in the environment when biosolids
are used on land. They examined the count, the metals in the organic compounds that
were believed to comprise the highest risks and -- and developed regulations so that
you can apply at least a thousand tons per foot -- either farm it for hundreds of years; and the
implication, based on all the science, is we can farm it forever. We say unequivocally it's a
sustainable practice because we have achieved industrial-free treatment.
Her concern about all these compounds going down the sewer -- remember the consumer
products are some of these compounds that some people make the big
deal about: Personal cosmetics and other things. Human exposure is every day.
21 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh.
DR. CHANEY: Well, the -- the -- the -- the safety -- that is, the long-term safety, I think is
overwhelmingly shown by the long-term experiments that have been conducted.
It's -- it's frustrating to hear people make some of those claims, in particular, the ones that --
about people have been harmed. I would agree that people have been harmed
whose outside cooking was interfered with by malodor, by poorly managed biosolids. But the
EPA has a specific response to the -- what was it? -- the consumer -- I can't remember the
name of the -- the -- they filed a petition against --
10 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh.
DR. CHANEY: -- EPA based on -- on some particular consumer rule, and EPA responded, in
detail, every claim of a person supposed to have died from biosolids and showed that if you
go to the state health department, the state in question, and ask, they made a very
thorough study and could find no relationship with biosolids.
19 JIM SCOTT: Hasn't the argument been made, though, that the EPA does not know how
people will react to these substances because no tests have been done to many of the
substances that aren't tested for in sewage sludge and that there is no empirical data on the
thousands of different chemicals that are contained in sludge -- pretreated or otherwise
DR. CHANEY: I don't know -- I don't know how much of that I can -- can respond to. It's clear
that the -- the -- the Toxins Substances Control Act --
4 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh --
DR. CHANEY: -- any -- any new chemicals for the last 15 to 20 years have to have had
testing to make sure that they're not going to be harmful to the workers. Remember that the
people that use these chemicals are much more highly exposed, and very few of them
actually enter into plants.
25 JIM SCOTT: Now, Dr. Chaney, you work closely with the EPA. What do you -- how -- what
is your response to the accusation or the allegation that there's been
a coverup here?
DR. CHANEY: When the head of the EPA has his legal staff work with the state health
department in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and several of the other places where --
where local issues arose and they issue a formal statement from the head of EPA, I -- I have
-- I don't have any data that conflict with what they say.
12 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh.
DR. CHANEY: Even the -- it was supposedly, in the end, believed that he had staph aureus,
and there's even been research on -- on staph aureus distribution of biosolids. And after --
during application -- even -- even a Class D treatment, there was no longer any
infectious doses of staph aureus in biosolids. So --
20 JIM SCOTT: Which --
DR. CHANEY: So --
22 JIM SCOTT: Yeah, go ahead.
DR. CHANEY: So I don't -- lacking any evidence --
25 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh.
DR. CHANEY: -- that it is happened -- really happening, but we have people who are sure that
the kid died from this and no evidence to say -- to base that claim upon other than their
concern about biosolids.
16 Dr. Chaney, we're going to get to you.
DR. CHANEY: I just -- I want to say that --
18 JIM SCOTT: Okay. Go ahead.
DR. CHANEY: -- the report that she just quoted, in its summary, has a statement, an
overarching finding, that no matter what she said, we don't have any evidence of an adverse
effect of biosolids used under the -- the 503 Rule. They don't have adverse effects. Now,
it's easy to point out all these things. But showing leaching, it just hasn't happened. I'm sorry.
2 JIM SCOTT: Okay. All right. We're going to -- I've got to take a break
DR. CHANEY: I've -- I've several responses needed here. One is I heard in the discussions
today that the lawsuit that he described, upon appeal, was overturned because the
unfortunate, really tragic situation on their farm was -- was a virus that occurs within herds and
that causes great loss.
9 JIM SCOTT: Is that true?
MR. HALLMAN: Absolutely false. The two cases -- that case was not overturned. The city
paid the judgment. The judgment is final. The record is conclusive that hazardous waste went
out on that farm.
23 Mr. Chaney -- Dr. Chaney, you've got the last 30 seconds, sir. I know there is a lot to --
DR. CHANEY: I think there has been a great deal of research about util- -- beneficial utilization
of biosolids -- looking at flow of contaminants, insisting on industrial pretreatment -- so
that we have biosolids that we can recommend that are safe for use. I think knowing that most
of the compounds that were discussed are water soluble and either destroyed during
sewage treatment or in the up fluent, not that much of them are ending up in the biosolids --
9 JIM SCOTT: Uh-huh.
DR. CHANEY: -- and they're not taken up into plants. There needed -- you've been told a
story -- I can give you the references to say that's just plain not the way the world is.
I wonder what Dr. Chaney was referring to when he mentions "Toxins Substances Control
Act" It doesn't appear he was talking about the USA PATRIOT Act and Public Health
Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 setting forth the
requirements for possession, use, and transfer of select agents and toxins.
Why would Chaney lie to the public and say that the sludge is safe? He states in the Guide to
the 503 Risk Assessment that the metals in sludge "do not cause or induce cancer."
Five of these metals are carcinogenic when inhaled, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium
VI and Nickel. EPA only included five of the part 503 "regulated" heavy metals on its
carcinogen list, while NIOSH's states 9 of the 10 are carcinogens.
Adding lime during the waste treatment process to create Class A sludge raises the pH to 11
or 12. It is used to control odors and is one of the recommended methods of treating sludge to
reduce pathogens--- sludge is mixed with lime, and the pH is raised above 12, where it must
remain for at least 72 hours. In effect, EPA's Class A treatment process is at a minimum
reactivating the chromium-VI compounds and putting the farmer and his neighbor at risk.
Dr. Chaney has claimed to be an expert on metals and regulations, but seems to know very
little about the health effects caused by metals or the regulations, especially as they pertain to
the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry which reports more metals are
very hazardous than Chaney admits.
Chaney said there was no Staphylococcus aureus in sludge. But there was a study.
RESULTS: Affected residents lived within approximately 1 km of land application sites and
generally complained of irritation (e.g., skin rashes and burning of the eyes, throat, and lungs)
after exposure to winds blowing from treated fields. A prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus
infections of the skin and respiratory tract was found. Approximately 1 in 4 of 54 individuals
were infected, including 2 mortalities (septicaemia, pneumonia).
The National Academy of Science 's (NAS) recent Committee report on toxicants, states that it
is impossible to do a risk assessment to prove sludge use under part 503 is safe. The
scientific statement is very blunt: FINDINGS,"-----the remaining uncertainty for complex
mixtures of chemical and biological agents is sufficient to preclude the development of
risk-management procedures that can reliability result in acceptable levels of risk." (5)
And the nine pollutants listed in sludge are very deadly. Such Deceit from a Scientist.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) received a lot of money from EPA for heading up a
public relations campaign to defame the names of victims who were harmed by sludge. EPA is
God to these people who operate the treatment plants having to dispose of sludge.
Neurotoxicity from Municipal Sewage Sludge
This complex substance poses a significant neurotoxic threat to farmers, their workers, nearby
residents, and possibly to the general population through the food supply. Recently, the FDA
attempted to allow food grown with such materials to be labeled as "organic", but is now
reconsidering due to massive citizen protest. However, such food is still permitted in the
general food supply.
The EPA released "A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule" in
September 1995 which acknowledged that the risk assessment was a sham. The only cancer
risk assessment was based on the organics that were proposed for regulation, but were never
According to the writers, EPA's John Walker, Linda Stien, Robert Southworth and James Ryan,
as well as USDA's Rufus Chaney, "--the Part 503 metals were considered noncarcinogens
(they do not cause or induce cancer) for the exposure pathways evaluated." (pp. 110-11).
The government has known for years that these metal were carcinogens. The fact is that no
federal agency offers any rules to protect the farmer -- OSHA only protects employees in the
Sludge is very hazardous according to: 40 CFR 503.9(t) Pollutant is an organic substance, an
inorganic substance, a combination of organic and inorganic substances, or a pathogenic
organism that, after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into
an organism either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion through the food
chain, could, on the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause death,
disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions
(including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either organisms or
offspring of the organisms.
503 Peer Review Committee
USDA was represented on the Committee by:
Dr. Rufus Chaney, who also built a career on doing studies
promoting the use of sludge as a fertilizer. His expertise
on the committee was bioavailability of metals.
Chaney also revealed the real nature of the 1989 Peer Review hatchet job on the proposed
Part 503 when he told Wilson, "Recycle and reuse, that's our national strategy," said
Chaney...."It costs so much more to put it in a landfill." In Wilson's article, Maryam
Khosravifard, staff scientist for the California Department of Food and Agricultural, revealed
what everyone else has failed to recognize. Maryam said, "EPA is in charge of getting rid of
these materials. They do reuse and recycling."
In fact, EPA is doing its best to phase out landfills -- because they are too dangerous -- they
actually contaminate the environment! Edward Kleppinger, a former EPA employee who wrote
hazardous waste rules, told Wilson, "The last refuge of the hazardous-waste scoundrel is to
call it a fertilizer or soil amendment and dump it on farmland."
Among the sources that WEF/EPA cited, who definitely were not unbiased, were Chaney of
the USDA, who supports land application of biosolids, and research done by the Water
Environment Research Foundation (WERF) of the WEF itself. In their sales hype, various
WEF spokespersons for the promotion of sewage sludge (biosolids) claim that there is a
consensus in the scientific community that the use of sewage sludge is safe for both land
application and in distribution and marketing sludge products.
In a paper written in 1995, James Ryan of the EPA and Rufus Chaney of the USDA, describe
how even flawed risk assessments are used in making risk management decisions. According
to them: In this risk assessment process it is soon apparent that lack of data, inappropriate
data or inadequate data on the dose-response relationship, environmental exposure or
population risk make implementation of the risk assessment difficult and lead to generalization
and or acceptance of inadequate data. However, even with these flaws, if done in an objective
manner the risk assessment serves as a useful analysis for risk management. (p. 6)
Recent information released by the National Whistleblower Center indicates that the confusing
nature of the part 503 was further compounded in late 1992, when scientists (EPA ORD's Jim
Ryan and Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rufus Chaney) hastily revised the final part
503. Apparently what these changes did was remove all information relating to the 25 primary
groups of death and disease causing agents and 21 cancer causing agents in sewage sludge
that were listed in 1989. (FR. 54. 23, pp. 5829, 5777). NSA Fact Sheet #110
Rufus Chaney (USDA) has been a long time promoter of sludge use as a fertilizer. It would
appear that EPA would like us to believe that Chaney and Ryan had little or no knowledge
about the uptake of pathogens by plants. It would also appear that they had no idea that
animals could be infected and passed on to humans. This is alarming since the USDA's
responsibility includes protecting our meat supply, before it gets to the slaughterhouse, as well
as during the processing.
As a matter of fact, Chaney did some of the first studies which show that toxic / hazardous
chemicals in sludge could be taken up be plants. Of course at the time, the soil scientists
thought Cadmium (called a "rare earth") was the only toxic metal of concern.
"The one limited human health study funded by EPA in Ohio noted the build up of Cadmium in
the kidney of animals grazed on pastures fertilized with small quantities (less than the
recommended rate) of toxic sewage sludge. The study also noted the documented transfer of
Salmonella contamination from humans, to sludge, to animals, to humans." (Public Facts #110)
These scientists knew animals could be contaminated by the toxic /hazardous chemicals and
pathogens in sludge. They knew sludge posed a threat to our meat supply, air and water. Yet,
they chose to promote this to the farmer and public as a safe fertilizer. The same can be said
for our plant crops. What is amazing is that EPA has studied and promoted the use of plants
to clean up hazardous waste sites. Yet, it continued to promote toxic /hazardous chemical and
disease contaminated sludge for our food crops.
One other significant change to part 503 made by Ryan and Chaney was adding food crops to
the 30-day grazing restriction rule. No farmer would let his land lie fallow for 14 months after
sludge use. Under the EPA rules, tobacco is a food crop. The most critical studies that have
been done on Cadmium take up by tobacco illustrate what could be happening to the rest of
our food supply.
Actually, United States Department of Agriculture studies (1974) indicated there could be very
serious problems with tobacco grown on land where toxic sewage sludge was used because of
the high uptake of Cadmium. "Chaney et al. (84)--- observed Cd (Cadmium) content in
tobacco to be 15 to 20 ppm at 1 ppm in the soil, and 45 ppm with 2 ppm Cd in the soil." (1)
In 1980 EPA and USDA began promoting sludge for food crops and:
According to Chaney (1980) there are mechanisms in the soil-plant barrier that
offer protection from toxicity. According to this theory, some metals are insoluble and are
adsorbed in the sludge- amended soil or plant roots and are not transferred into the parts of
the plant that are edible. Furthermore, metals, such as copper and nickel, which can be taken
up by plants at levels that can cause phytotoxicity, would cause the edible parts of the plant to
be stunted or the plant to exhibit symptoms of phytotoxicity reducing the quantities of such
plants and plant consumption by animals.
But then he changed his mind:
2. "Following organic matter decomposition, trace elements from wastewater and sewage
are released and form sparingly soluble reaction products. These trace elements include
arsenic, cadmium, copper, cobalt, nickel, lead, selenite-selenium, molybdate-molybdenum,
and others. Because of their sparingly soluble nature and their limited uptake by plants, they
tend to accumulate in the surface soil and become part of the soil matrix (McGrath et al.,
1994). With repeated applications of wastewater, and particularly with sludges, these elements
could accumulate to levels of toxic to plants (Chang et al. 1992) and soil organisms (Mcgrath
et al., 1994). They could also accumulate in crops where they could, in turn, build up to
potentially harmful levels in humans, domestic animals, and wildlife that consume the crops
(Logan and Chaney, 1983)." (p. 70-71)
By 1987 Chaney said, The potential for excessive crop uptake of heavy metals from land
previously amended with sludge is of concern because of the persistence of heavy metals.
At the 100 Mg/ha rate of Nu-Earth sludge, soybean Zn and Cd concentrations, respectively,
were 59 and 1.75 mg/kg at soil pH 6.4 and 84 and 2.54 mg/kg at soil pH 5.8. These results
indicate that sludge composition and soil pH can have a substantial influence on soybean
metal uptake for at least 9 yr after the initial sludge application
EPA's Chief Salesman appears to be USDA's Rufus Chaney who appears to believe toxic and
hazardous waste is good for the farmer and home gardener. However, he wasn't originally
sold on EPA's sludge dumping program. The December 1992, Water Environment Federation
Washington Bulletin noted there was some discontent in the sludge industry with the proposed
Part 503 rule. Rufus Chaney, USDA, didn't think the EPA limits for cadmium, chromium,
molybdenum and selenium were in the best interest of agricultural. He claimed there was no
technical basis for cadmium at 39 mg/kg and it should be 25 mg/kg. He did not think chromium
should be regulated, molybdenum should be double the current 18 mg/kg and selenium
should be less than 36 mg/kg. It was also his contention that the "clean sludge" concept "is a
whole lot different regulatory approach and it needs to be honest." (p. 3)
But then he changed his mind again:
MMSD's request for the use of hazardous PCBs contaminated sludge on food crop production
land has the backing of Rufus Chaney. "Public interest and common sense dictate that
[MMSD's request] be granted," says Rufus Chaney, a research agronomist and consultant to
the U.S.Department of Agriculture."
Wilson found that. "Canada's limit for heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in fertilizer is 10
to 90 times lower than the U.S. limits for metals in sewage sludge. "He stated, "The United
States has no limits for metals in fertilizers." Canadian Regulator, Darlene Blair, says, "Sorry,
but we won't compromise our health." Unlike the Canadian regulatory agency the EPA and
USDA take the opposite approach. USDA's Rufus Chaney followed the EPA line, when he
spoke to Wilson, He said. "It is irresponsible to create unnecessary limits that cost a hell of a
lot of money."
* And what about the U.S. Department of Agricultural (USDA)? Its primary responsibility should
be the protection of our food-chain crops. Yet, Rufus Chaney has been one of the major
forces in promoting the dumping of toxic and hazardous waste as a fertilizer in the United
States and criticizes Canada's approach to food safety by not allowing high concentrations of
heavy metals in fertilizer.. According to Duff Wilson's article in the Seattle Times "Here's what's
known, and not known about toxics, plants and soil", July 3, 1997, Chaney of the USDA's
Research Service says, "It is irresponsible to create unnecessary limits that cost a lot of
* Like Rubin, Chaney says "consumers have little, if any reason for concern. Chaney's
studies, since 1976, indicate that dangerous substances are highly unlikely to move through
the food chain to humans, he said." (Wilson, July 3, 1997) Yet, Chaney's own 1984 study
showed there was a serious concerns. USDA studies indicated that tobacco plant took up
cadmium at a rate of 15 to 20 ppm for every 1 (one) ppm in the soil.
In effect, based on the study, tobacco plants would multiply the 39 ppm of cadmium in
exceptional quality sludge to 780 ppm in the plant. What happens to the other toxic metals?
What about other food crops? Not only that, but EPA has information which shows (in the
regulation) that exposure to any of the pollutants in sludge may kill you when exposure is
through the food-chain. (40 CFR 503.9 (t)) (Public Facts #112)
* The question is, what does Chaney consider to be a dangerous substance? In 1976, when
the first studies were done, the EPA and USDA only considered cadmium and PCB's to be
dangerous in food crop production. Lead was wonderful in gasoline and paint. And it had
been less than twenty years since the major book on fertilizer called toxic heavy metals "rare
Perhaps Chaney never caught up with his scientific reading or he would have discovered that
the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Institute (NIOSH) lists all of the "rare
earths" as poisons. The 1995 EPA/CERCLA list of toxic priority pollutants found in landfills now
includes 275 substances that will cause disease, cancer, death, physical and mental problems
as well as genetic defects when exposure is through the food chain. (Public Facts #108)
* As the scientists responsible for promoting the use of toxic sewage sludge and hazardous
waste as a fertilizer Rubin and Chaney have an advantage over the general public and
farmers. They have to know the toxic organics in sewage sludge can kill without leaving a
trace in the body. They also know that the toxic heavy metals build up in the animal as well as
human system over a long period of time (from 5 to 20 years) so that a scientific connection
would not be generally made between the sickness and toxic sludge or hazardous waste
* Both Rubin and Chaney are also aware, if they did the basic research, that EPA deliberately
put the American public and farmers at risk by removing the hazardous waste labeling
requirement for fertilizers using hazardous waste materials in 1984 because farmers would not
accept hazardous waste mixtures as a fertilizer for food crop production or otherwise. It is all
outlined in the Federal Register. Neither hazardous waste or toxic sewage sludge was
supposed to be used on food crops. The use of either one as a fertilizer was considered to be
for purposes of disposal, which constitutes open dumping under federal laws. (public facts
#100, #101, #118)
* With millions of dollars at stake in the waste disposal business we can understand why many
ex-EPA officials are working for the waste industry. Where do Rubin and Chaney fit in this
picture and why was Chaney recently lobbying in New York State against more restrictive
Now we find that Dr. Chaney (a soil metals expert) is more of an expert on the CDC's biological
bioterrorism program than is the CDC in its reply to http://deadlydeceit.com/CDC.html
which CDC says:
"The regulation of sewage sludge does not fall within the purview of the
Agricultural Select Agent Program. Dr. Rufus Chaney is a Research Agronomist with the
USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Recommend contacting ARS directly
(301-504-8324) for information regarding Dr. Chaney's remarks."
The fact is that CDC requires notification of a release outside of a containment area if the
product will kill people as stated in 40 CFR 503.9(t) as well as the CWA and the RCRA. The
CDC also has shipping requirements for the pathogens in sludge under 42 CFR Part §72.1
In this final rule, newly designated 7 CFR 331.19(b) requires that APHIS or
CDC be notified immediately upon discovery of a release of a PPQ select
agent or toxin outside the primary barriers of the biocontainment area
Any microorganism (including, but not limited
to, bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae, or protozoa),
or infectious substance, or any naturally occurring,
bioengineered, or synthesized component of any
such microorganism or infectious substance,
capable of causing: (1) Death, disease or other
biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant,
or another living organism; (2) deterioration of food,
water, equipment, supplies, or material of any kind; or
(3) deleterious alteration of the environment.
42 § 73.1 Definitions.
Biological agent means any microorganism (including, but not limited to, bacteria, viruses,
fungi, rickettsiae, or protozoa), or infectious substance, or any naturally occurring,
bioengineered, or synthesized component of any such microorganism
or infectious substance, capable of causing death, disease, or other biological malfunction in
a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism; deterioration of food, water,
equipment, supplies, or material of any kind; or deleterious alteration of the environment.
§ 121.1, § 331.1 Definitions.
Any microorganism (including, but not limited to, bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae, or
protozoa), or infectious substance, or any naturally occurring, bioengineered, or synthesized
component of any such microorganism or infectious substance, capable of causing:
(1) Death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a
plant, or another living organism;
(2) Deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or material of any
kind; or (3) Deleterious alteration of the environment.